The SA Medical Association, the United Domestic Workers of SA and the Injured Workers Action Group (Iwag) have called for the scrapping of a proposed major amendment to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Bill they claim will “weaken” the position of claimants already struggling to get the fund to pay up.
The Mercury reports Tim Hughes, spokesperson for Iwag, said that there was “no legal justification” for the proposed amendment to section 43 of the Act, which would remove the right of medical service providers to use external administrators to lodge claims with the fund.
According to Iwag, these third parties play a critical role in ensuring medical service providers’ invoices are paid timeously, removing the cumbersome administrative, financial and legal burden from healthcare professionals. Hughes said Iwag was calling for the removal of section 43 as the use of administrators was the only functional aspect of the “dysfunctional fund” that kept claimants waiting years for payment.
“We cannot see any justification for the introduction of section 43. Neither the Minister nor the Department of Employment & Labour, much less the Compensation Fund, have provided any reasonable rationale for the amendment,” Hughes said. “More concerning is that because of the financial risk, the introduction of section 43 will discourage many healthcare providers from treating workers injured on duty, significantly reducing the pool of care, and placing additional pressure on a strained public healthcare system,” he said.
Hughes said the only possible reason for the change was to weaken the position of claimants and strengthen the fund, which was reluctant to pay claims, as administrators had repeatedly taken the fund to court, and won every case, forcing it to pay up.
Full report in The Mercury (Restricted access)